Joek de Haan, sales director, Concept Three

Q: What are the current trends in office design?
A: Modern working environments place high demands on performance and flexibility. Rigid hierarchies are dissolving, teamwork is the order of the day and the latest technologies are being used. In addition to facilities for working in groups, retreats that allow for absolute concentration or a quiet break are necessary.

Trends are often determined by changes in technology, which affect workplace needs, with the interpretation and solutions usually resting in the hands of designers. The trends that Concept Three (C3) is responding to include desks becoming smaller, and the need to create more breakaway areas where staff can interact, such as coffee, social and ‘touchdown’ spaces. Another trend highlights the need for staff to work individually and, when necessary, collaboratively with like-minded people, encouraging a sense of community and energy in a coworking environment. Usually these two methods of work require different spaces and different screening solutions.

Q: Do psychological factors affect open-plan designs?
A: To create a happy office environment, consideration must be given to the dedicated placement of staff to suit their individual work needs.

This includes focus (quiet areas with optimum sound absorption to help direct attention on a single task); teamwork (pleasant, spacious, well-equipped spaces that encourage communication); social time (a space that facilitates connection and creative informal meetings); learning (flexible, adjustable areas that can be adapted to the needs at the time); and privacy (spaces should account for the needs of a team or individual, using solutions such as privacy rooms, phone booths and video conference centres).

Q: Are there specific technical standards related to partitioning/screening?
A: There are no official technical standards set for screening. At C3, we create our own, where foremost is our objective to provide a quality product with good stability for desk- and floor-based screens, and to deliver on time. All products are manufactured using environmentally friendly components.

All C3 screens are manufactured to customer specification, be that fabric, acrylic or glass, size, colour and so on. Each client’s needs are totally different: one might require an admin office with low noise levels, which can be achieved using a standard screen; yet another may have a call centre that by nature has a higher noise level and, therefore, may need an acoustic product.

In the case of acoustic screens, which are predominantly used to manage noise interference, we offer a certified foam core that provides additional sound absorption in conjunction with a holistic view of the area.

Q: What types of partitions are on offer?
A: Our product range is extensive, and designed and manufactured to client specification. It includes frameless desk- and floor-based screens that can be linked; desk- and floor-based framed screens that support configured worktops (a simple clip-in bracket holds up a worktop to create a cubicle); space dividers for floor-to-ceiling applications; mobile magnetic whiteboards and pin boards; and curved meeting pods; privacy booths. And then there’s Latitude – a 2.2m open-plan office/meeting room with a door and ceiling baffle [slats that help absorb sound].

Q: Is privacy possible in open-plan environments?
A: Yes, most definitely. Open-plan areas can be enhanced by informal, quiet meeting pods, cellphone booths and phone hoods. It is important to acknowledge that each employee has various needs throughout a workday. Some tasks require collaboration; others need undisturbed focus.

People also have varying personal preferences in a work environment – some are energised by the buzz of an open area while others find it distracting. It is therefore important to offer equal opportunities for productivity.

Q: How manoeuvrable are screens?
A: Our floor- and desk-based screens are user-friendly and, with some training from C3, clients can reconfigure them to suit their needs. Our Latitude Pod systems, however, require C3 to move the pods.

Q: Name some of your products’ green features.
A: This is currently our primary focus… We want sustainability for our business and the environment. In our production process we use materials from sustainable timber sources and utilise up to 90% of the material we purchase, thus minimising waste-to-landfill. We have introduced a 100% recycled polymer-felt material derived from plastic bottles, and one of our fabric suppliers is making screen fabric from 100% locally produced polyester yarns.

We are also moving away from anodised aluminium (used in framed screens) and towards powder coating. The powder-coating process is more environmentally friendly as the chemicals used in anodising need to be changed every fortnight. The powder-coating plant uses borehole water, which is recycled. We are also changing our packaging to recycled plastic.

These are key focus points in supplying our dealers – entrepreneurs who do not have manufacturing facilities but offer package office-space solutions. We constantly strive to respond to the market through product innovation.

By Kerry Dimmer
Illustration: Janine Petzer

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